England footballers past and present hailed a “special” national team after they thrashed Sweden 4-0 on Tuesday to reach the women’s European Championship final.
Goals from Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo and Fran Kirby propelled England to a sensational win in front of a sell-out crowd at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, and earned them qualification to their first Euros final since 2009.
“Is this real? Someone pinch me. It’s hard not to get emotional,” Alex Scott, who made 140 appearances for the England women’s team between 2004 and 2017, told the BBC.
“The amount of investment and everything that’s gone into the women’s game is for a moment like this. For this team to get to Wembley is something special. They deserve every accolade coming their way.”
The final will be at London’s Wembley Stadium on July 31 against either Germany or France, who meet in the other semi-final later on Wednesday.
Arsenal great Ian Wright said the England win could inspire a new generation of players.
“Whatever happens in the final, if the girls aren’t allowed to play football in (physical education) like the boys what are we doing?” Wright told the BBC.
“This will inspire a lot of people. Girls should be able to play. This is as proud as I’ve ever felt of any England side.”
Former Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney, England’s record scorer, also heaped praise on the women’s team.
“A well deserved final coming up. Congratulations to all the players and staff,” Rooney wrote on Twitter.
England and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane also took to Twitter to celebrate the victory, adding: “Bring on the final.”